President reverses changes to Endangered Species Act that allowed federal agencies to sideline environmental advice.
President Obama this week completed his first 100 days in office much as he began them, by reversing controversial regulations passed by the Bush administration that sought to relax US environmental rules.
The White House announced on Tuesday that it had formally overturned an eleventh hour regulation passed in the dying days of the Bush administration that allowed federal agencies to bypass independent advice on the environmental impact of projects.
Traditionally, federal agencies and the companies whose projects they approved had to assess the environmental consequences of proposed projects based on their potential impact on endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. Under the Act the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had to be consulted for their independent scientific advice.
However, the Bush regulation relaxed those rules, and expressly dismissed any causal links between climate change and erosion of endangered species’ habitats – a significant move that attempted to head off legal action from green groups against carbon intensive industries that could have argued the indirect damage they caused to habitats put them in breach of the Endangered Species Act.
“By rolling back this eleventh hour regulation, we are ensuring that threatened and endangered species continue to receive the full protection of the law,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “Because science must serve as the foundation for decisions we make, federal agencies proposing to take actions that might affect threatened and endangered species will once again have to consult with biologists at the two departments.”
President Obama had requested last month that the agencies review the regulation, which came into force on January 15, just five days before the new president’s inauguration.
News Source: Business Green
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